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Founding Story

Image: Elinore and Dr. Lou Siminovitch


“Creativity is not easily defined, understood or even recognized, but there are those who rise above the clouds.”
– Dr. Lou Siminovitch


A Deep Appreciation for Theatre

In 2001, twelve visionary founding donors raised $1,200,000 to launch the Siminovitch Prize to honour the significant contributions of Dr. Lou Siminovitch and Elinore Siminovitch to Canadian society. They did this by creating a prize which valued excellence and innovation in the art form the couple loved most, the theatre.

Rather than endow the Siminovitch Prize in perpetuity at a smaller size, the founders decided to create a $100,000 prize to immediately have a more material impact. Thanks to enormous financial and administrative support from BMO, this first round of funding sustained the Siminovitch Prize from 2001-2012.

Upon receiving the news in 2012 that the Siminovitch Prize would be issued for the last time, Kathy and Margo Siminovitch rallied friends and family to keep it alive and created the independent Siminovitch Theatre Foundation. This new group of heroes, dedicated to continuing the legacy of Lou and Elinore Siminovitch, funded the award for the next decade, and many continue to do so today.

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About Our History


Founders of the Siminovitch Prize


Dr. Louis (“Lou”) Siminovitch
1920 – 2021

Dr. Louis Siminovitch was a legendary scientist, considered the father of genetics in Canada. After transformative discoveries at Paris’ Pasteur Institute, he returned to Canada in 1953, establishing his home in Toronto where he helped build some of the most world-renowned centres of biomedical research, including the Ontario Cancer Institute, the Department of Medical Genetics at University of Toronto, the Hospital for Sick Children Genetics Division and, at age 65, founded and directed a research institute at Mount Sinai Hospital.

His exceptional gift for imagining and shaping the future of research pushed the frontiers in stem cell research, somatic cell biology and molecular genetics, most notably helping to uncover the genetic basis of muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis and laying the groundwork for identifying genetic connections to cancer. A mentor to generations of young scientists, he is considered the architect of the modern research institute in Canada. (Image Credit: Dave Chan)

Elinore Siminovitch
1922 – 1995

Elinore Siminovitch was a playwright and feminist. Elinore arrived in Canada at age six and, although she excelled academically, did not have the opportunity to pursue a higher education until arriving in Paris where she studied at the Sorbonne. She was fluent in English, French and Russian.

She began writing in the 1960s and her short stories aired on CBC Radio. Enthralled by the theatre, her plays reflect her interests in social justice, family dynamics and feminism. It was not an easy career for women writers and the excellence of her plays was often only acknowledged when they were submitted anonymously, for example, Big X, Little Y, which won the Ottawa Little Theatre’s Playwriting Competition.

Her work continues to resonate as evidenced by the reading of Big X, Little Y at McGill in 2020 and a production of A Man in the House at a US college in 2018.


A Celebrated History
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Continue reading about the history of the Siminovitch Prize, Dr. Lou and Elinore Siminovitch.

Image: Dr. Lou Siminovitch and Jillian Keiley


A Lasting Legacy

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